Tuesday, June 24, 2014


To experiment means to tentatively adopt a course of action without being sure of the eventual outcome. I have had faith that reading the Book of Mormon and living the truths that it teaches will make my life better. Thus I have "experimented on the words" encouraging me to do so and I have found that, for me, it has been true to the promised blessings.

I have also had faith that my experience in the temple will help me draw closer to my Father in Heaven. In adopting this "course of action" I have found a greater incentive to live a good life and have experienced a greater closeness to God and a higher purpose in life.

In the wake of all of the controversy over historical events, current excommunications, etc., I have personally found it to be a distraction from searching for and finding the peace and inspiration that the practice of reading the Book of Mormon and attending the temple can offer me. 

I want to say that I fully support questioning and searching for truth. I believe that it is important to question and find that which resonates with our connection with God and His Holy Spirit and which is true for us. I also believe it is important to experiment and find out what personally blesses and lifts us. While I read and while I attend the temple, I am always questioning and being blessed with amazing answers.

I am a huge advocate for intrinsic motivation and intrinsic joy. We can always find great direction and inspiration from others but our best validation of what is best for us comes through experimenting on that direction and inspiration and then sincere questioning is that which comes individually to me through the Holy Spirit as a confirmation of what is true and beneficial for me.

I have found that it can always be a little different for each person, and it is important for me to have faith and trust in another person's individual inspiration and their journey, even if their experimentation is a painful lesson in learning what not to do. It is still valuable for them and can help them appreciate the atonement offered by our Savior in a more profound way.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Have been a Modern Day Pharisee

One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon is Mormon 9:31. "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

With that said, I hope you won't condemn me but just learn to be more wise than I have been as I honestly reveal a great weakness and sin of mine. Go ahead and thank me for once again offering myself up as a bad example. I am simply one of the most selfless people I know. (sarcasm intended)

Because I was hard-wired to be a rule follower, I have often been a modern day Pharisee. I acknowledge that I have tried (try being the key word) to strictly observe the laws of God. Trying to keep the commandments wasn't the problem because I know that the commandments are given as a blessing to help us draw closer to Heavenly Father and to enjoy peace and happiness. The problem came only when I, like the Pharisees, sometimes  became obsessed with a focus on strictness. The dictionary definition of the word "strict" is very revealing.

demanding that rules concerning behavior are obeyed and observed.
• (of a rule or discipline) demanding total obedience or observance; rigidly enforced.
• (of a person) following rules or beliefs exactly.
• exact in correspondence or adherence to something; not allowing or admitting deviation or relaxation: a strict interpretation of the law.

That kind of strict observance thus became more about the letter of the law than the spirit of the law. Instead of a focus on the peace and joy and closeness I  and others can feel because of obedience to my Father in Heaven, there was more of a focus on the law. I was caught up in what was only meant to be the means to that end. I wasn't "enduring to the end" and feeling the ultimate benefits of feeling more love and peace as a result of observing the commandments; I was marching with the banner, "All of you better keep the same rules that I choose to keep!"

The focus on the letter of the law becomes even more accentuated as I worried and was in fear if other people weren't keeping the laws and I joined the commandment-keeping police academy . Talk about missing out on the love and peace I should have been feeling because of personally keeping the commandments to the best of my ability!  I would get into fear and judgment and totally gloss over the truth that they were simply missing out on the peace and joy they could have had and started to judge and condemn them all the while hoping that that kind of criticism would motivate them to change their course (All of you who have just an ounce more good sense than me already know that this course is counter productive).

Because of a focus on fear instead of faith and love, I totally discounted the truth that pain of straying from the commandments would be the best teacher and totally negated faith in the fact that wickedness never is happiness. Instead, in judging and condemning them, I created more pain in what should have been a safe and loving relationship.

I have learned that I should just live the correct principles contained in the commandments and let other people govern themselves as Joseph Smith taught. My job is mainly to love and be a good example; not ever try to force people to do it my way (I'm continually surprised I didn't follow the pre-earthly plan of no free agency). Dallin H. Oaks beautifully said that in a church setting, we should teach the principles behind the commandments and not necessarily the dos and don'ts because that is for the individuals and families to decide.

I have a very strong conviction of the benefits of being part of an organized religion in which principles for happy and healthy living and eternal blessings are taught. I also know that the social connections can be a real blessing when we are loving and serving one another.  I do believe that most of the damage in a religion happens when we as members act like Pharisees and use the commandments not to just personally benefit us but to divide us because we are judging and condemning each other. I am sure every religion has their share of Pharisees; especially in areas where a religion is the most predominate because it is easier to observe everything that is going on, and more tempting to judge.

I want to always remember that it isn't the law I should worship, but to embrace and try to live the commandments to better worship my Heavenly Father and partake of His love. I am turning in my commandment-following police badge.  I want to commit myself to be a better example of the kindness, love, and mercy my Savior exemplified. He never discounted the importance and benefits of the commandments and the spirit of the law; He just condemned those who wanted to judge and condemn others for breaking the letter of the law.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Cursed is the ground for thy sake"

This morning I spent some time weeding in our yard. Since we have a lot of property, we have a great guy take care of most of the yard care. It's a win-win for us both. He gets a good job and we don't have to take care of more than we can handle.  Besides, we are inept at anything with a motor.

Even though we have help, I like to leave some of yardwork for myself because I know how therapeutic it is. I have a tiny little garden that I planted and take care of and this morning I watered and pulled up weeds in our flower beds.

There is something exhilarating about pulling up a weed and having its roots slide out of the ground. It makes me better understand when the scriptures say "cursed is the ground for thy sake." Another word for sake is benefit. The weeds and the other imperfections of our lives are for our benefit. There is something wonderful to be found in the hard work that it takes to rid our lives of the weeds. But more important and really the essential part, is the opportunity to be humble and needy and to draw close to our Savior and really know that He is the only one that can take away the weeds in our lives and plant something wonderful.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Man in the Mirror

Speaking of mirrors...

This is my favorite song. Hands down. I love the beat, I love Michael Jackson, and I love the profound message.

It is human nature to want to blame someone else for our troubles. But it is true. "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change." If I want to make a better relationship, I start with the woman in the mirror. I just need to be careful about looking in the mirror at the end of the day because invariably I realize--I have gone all day looking like this!

Myself in the Mirror

I have recently realized that if I want to continually improve and become a better version of myself (actually who I was really created to be) that people will show up and provide the mirror of myself that can be the painful wake up call that I need for course correction.

This business of praying for insight and direction can be pretty brutal sometimes. Oh golly geez, having someone behave and treat me like I know I have been to other people is a better lesson than anything I can read in a book.

It was suggested that Adam and Eve would learn from their experiences. I guess a hard-headed person like me needs to learn the hard way, and I have to experience myself in the mirror of others to literally "see" what I am doing wrong.

Thank you to all those negative mirrors out there. I really don't condemn you; I appreciate the sacrifice you made to show me what not to do, and I realize I want to give you the same kind of compassion and forgiveness that I want to receive as I also provide a negative mirror to others. I mean, that is what us self-sacrificing people do--serve as a bad example. 

Not only will people show up demonstrating what I am doing that I shouldn't do, but people will also be there to show me how my true self can and should be. Thank you to those positive mirrors.  It is nice to see what I can and want to be.  Someday I hope that I can grow up and be more of a positive mirror for others. But don't hold your breath.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Push forward Pull back

Push forward and exercise until I sweat

Pull back when I am

Push forward to love

Pull back when I am tempted to judge

Discipline of body and spirit go hand in hand. Being a disciple includes all parts.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Grandma gets to spoil

The best part of being a grandma is taking my grandkids shopping for their birthday presents and kind of spoiling them. I know that grandma's taste isn't always the same as the kids (the ugly Christmas sweaters were my first clue) and so I would much rather take them and let them pick out their own presents. Besides getting what they really want rather than a piece of clothing they would only use when they dress up like a nerd for Halloween, I get to spend some one on one time with them. In the case of these twins, two on one time or one on two time. When given the choice, they always want to go together. They not only look different from each other but their personalities are so different and their taste in shoes and clothes match their opposite personalities. What a fun day. Happy Birthday you two adorable girls.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hijacked Sense of Humor

I have multiply personalities. Call me Sybil or Martha or Gertrude...

I love intellectually deep discussions and sometimes I can get too analytical and take life way too seriously. SURPRISE! Okay, that is not a surprise to all of those who have had to endure my droning on and on and...

I also love to laugh and have a good time. Sometimes I have got to drown the personality that wants to figure life out and embrace the personality that likes to laugh and just enjoy life.

Sometimes life can get pretty heavy, especially dealing with crazy people (myself included). So right now I just take a deep breath and laugh. Thank goodness I still have a chance to pay off the terrorists that hijacked my sense of humor. I am giving them my oldest child. (Sorry Jake, it's been nice). 

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Mother's Prayer

There is simply no more important prayer than the one in which a mother is pleading for the health and happiness of her children. Watch out world. When a mother prays, miracles will happen.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Importance of Community

I was just reading in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. He tells the story of a town in Pennsylvania in the 1950s that had no heart disease and in which all the people lived to old age. Even though they had the same bad habits as other people, they didn't suffer the same bad health.

After extensive study of people in this town, it was concluded that the factor that made the difference was their sense of community.

I was also reading an article by Elizabeth Vandenberghe https://www.lds.org/ensign/1994/10/religion-and-the-abundant-life?lang=eng&query=religion about the research she has done on the value of religiosity. Incidentally, years ago I heard her speak and she was a major catalyst for my return to the university and a desire to do research.

What a great blessing it is for me to be part of a family and a religious community in which I am a member, I have shared emotional connection, my needs are integrated and fulfilled, I can have influence and am influenced by, and I get to have responsibilities. It is nice to know that these factors will have more of an influence on my health and happiness than my bad eating habits. Yea for chocolate!